The North Bay Heritage Gardeners’ education platform was redesigned since in person sessions are not possible due to COVID-19. Lynn Farintosh, Master Gardener and Jade Scognamillo, NBHG Executive Director designed a monthly education resource that can be shared with volunteers and the public. Each month, three topics will be explored, accompanied by articles, videos, online resources and/or in-person interviews. Materials are posted on the Heritage Gardener website for one month.
Since the gardening season straddles the indoors and outdoors, the education topics for this month do the same.
1. Needle drop in Conifers, and how it affects soil pH
2. Forcing Bulbs Indoors
3. Big Old Trees
TOPIC 1: NEEDLE DROP IN CONIFERS, & HOT IT AFFECTS SOIL PH
Fall in central Ontario is the time of year when we see the beautiful colors of the deciduous trees before their leaves fall to the ground. Conifer trees also drop some of their needles in the fall. This can be concerning to those not familiar with this natural process, especially when it seems to be excessive.
A. Here is a short article from the University of Michigan about fall needle drop in conifers. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/fall_needle_drop_a_natural_phenomenon_in_conifer
B. And here is another from The Morton Arboretum in Illinois. https://www.mortonarb.org/trees-plants/tree-and-plant-advice/horticulture-care/seasonal-needle-drop
C. Here you will find a six-minute video with an arborist from University of Saskatchewan who shows us normal and abnormal browning in conifers in fall. Tip – check the buds. This link also has some written information including a chart showing sources of tree stress and their effects. https://gardening.usask.ca/articles-disorders/why-is-my-evergreen-turning-brown.php
D. No need to rake up conifer needles — they will not make your soil acidic.
Read myth #3 here…
E. In fact, this article by Judith Adams in Garden Making, a Canadian magazine, outlines the benefits pine needles bring to soil. https://gardenmaking.com/conifer-needles-good-soil/
TOPIC 2: FORCING BULBS INDOORS
Maybe you just finished getting your spring flowering bulbs in the ground. Why wait until next spring to see their beauty? With some work you can have spring bulbs flowering indoors in late winter.
A. This twelve-minute video explains forcing flowering bulbs indoors in winter. But beware — the presenters on this excellent video are in British Columbia; a garage or shed in North Bay will be way below 0C in winter! https://www.botanus.com/garden-club/episode-91-100/episode-96-how-to-force-flower-bulbs
B. Not all flowering bulbs need chilling; both types are described here. https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/growing-bulbs-indoors/5158.html#:~:text=This%20technique%20of%20coaxing%20bulbs,4%22%20to%206%22%20deep
C. A four-page fact sheet from Purdue University on forcing bulbs is here … https://ag.purdue.edu/hla/pubs/HO/HO-19.pdf
D. If you want more information on forcing bulbs here is a detailed report from a Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener complete with an extensive reference section.
TOPIC 3: BIG OLD TRESS
You may have always known deep in your bones that big, old trees are important. Well science is catching up to you. Here are two short reviews of scientific works.
Big trees are important in urban settings too…